rosemary sprigs

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s fakeness. Hate me, ignore me, laugh at me, whatever—as long as you’re being honest and you mean it. Just don’t, please, if you have any heart, don’t put on for me. Don’t tell me you like A when you hate A. Don’t tell me you do B when you don’t. Just, for heaven’s sake, be real. That’s it, that’s all I ask.

Thing is, being authentic, always acting sincerely, is harder than it sounds. Take work: Do I always, always want to go to work in the morning? No, of course not, sometimes my bed feels positively warm and wonderful and all I want is to stay in it a bit longer. I’ll still go to work, though. And when I do, go to work, that is, I can’t very well announce to every person I see that, Just so you know, I’m pretty tired and cranky this morning, so I don’t want to be here. No, I can’t very well do that at all.

So here I am, hypocrite and hypocrite-hater, wishing for—in other people—the very thing I am want to lack, wishing for people to be real, in some sense of the word, without being real, as in open and honest about everything.

You may not think it at first, but this is kind of what I’m starting to like about rosemary or, really, food in general. It’s honest and dishonest. It’s exactly what you think and then, not what you think at all. All my life, for example, rosemary’s been one thing—a woody, fragrant herb that works nicely in focaccia or marinades or with potatoes. Certainly not with fish, No, thank you. Certainly not with cakes or pie. And, honestly, I’m sure I would have told you: Certainly not in cookies.

Rosemary is a funny herb. With its pointy needles, extending from stems and deepening from green to purple in color, its branches look a little like tiny Christmas trees. And the smell—it’s so powerful, so knock-you-over strong, that it’s positively arresting.

In many ways, rosemary’s also something of a surprise, because it’s full of uses that are unordinary. I just caught a recipe for buttermilk and rosemary ice cream, for example; appetizing? Before you say no, ask yourself, Could it be interesting? Could it be different? Could it be delicious?

fresh from oven

Without trying it, you just won’t know. And that, essentially, is why you need to try this recipe. Rosemary cookies. Of all the things. Who would’ve thought to put a strong herb into a sable-style cookie? (Well, Martha Stewart, who else?)

These cookies are fantastic. No, better than that, outstanding! No, near perfection!

What they do especially well, beyond the sheer pleasure of their texture and perfect crunch as you bite in, is a subtle combination of both sweet and salty flavor. The recipe’s coarse salt works with the rosemary to make these sweet, sugary cookies savory. And oh, are they ever! Try them. It’s enough to make a food adventurer out of all of us.

rosemary cookies

Rosemary Butter Cookies
Slighted adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg white, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse salt (I used kosher)
1/2 cup fine sanding sugar (I just used granulated)

1. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in whole egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, rosemary and salt, and mix until combined.

2. Halve dough; shape each half into a log. Place each log on a 12 X 16 sheet of parchment. Roll in the parchment to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Freeze until firm, about an hour or overnight works fine.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush each log with beaten egg white; roll in sugar. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space each cookie about an each apart on baking sheets lined with parchment (or a Silpat! I love mine!). Bake until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies may be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to three days.

Note: I do eat other things besides cookies, I assure you, not that you could tell from my blogging this week. Mom, if you’re reading, I’m OK! It’s just that I really, really love cookies and find it easy to write about them. I didn’t think you’d mind. One bite of these beauties, and you’ll be a cookie convert, too.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Rachel

    oh how interesting! lovely looking cookies to be sure!

  2. Nealy

    Or maybe I’ll try these for book club? Hmm.

    Oh, my chicken marinate came out not the best. I’ve been on this kick of using alcohol in cooking lately. And I marinated the chicken in a Mike’s Hard Lemonade. The lemon favor was weak and the sugar or something didn’t do much for me. But it’s still edible. I’ll keep trying different things.

  3. Tony M

    Wow, what an interesting recipe. I love it when unsual ingredients give amazing results like that. I recently cooked with lavender – also with good results – in a panna cotta with rhubarb and strawberry coulis. A very subtle flavour but very good. Will post the recipe on my blog some time and in the meantime will have a go at the cookies.

  4. Kelley

    Enough said: I’m going downstairs to take butter from the freezer. By the time I’m done with my afternoon’s work, it should be soft. My rosemary out front is flourishing and there’s not much nicer than cooking with something you grew yourself. I’ll be sure to give you a report … :)

  5. Lan

    what a great post. i agree with you, i hate hypocrites and yet, sometimes i am one too. anyway, the cookies look great. i’ve been thinking alot lately about using herbs in normally sweet treats. i recently added thyme to some polenta cookies (the polenta cookies were martha’s creations but the thyme was my addition) and they turned out nicely. i haven’t played with rosemary much, but i just might soon.

  6. Shannalee

    Rachel: Lovely, indeed!

    Nealy: Maybe make both! :) I actually did bring the NT Times choc-chips and these to a party Saturday night. Will it sound over-the-top when I tell you people gasped when I opened the lid? Big crowd-pleasers.

    Tony M: I recently realized we have lavender bushes in our backyard, so I’ve been wishing for a good way to use them. I’ll head over to your blog right now!

    Kelley: Fresh rosemary!? I’m green with envy!

    Lan: Thank you, Lan! That polenta/thyme creation has been intrigued. I’m headed to your blog next and hope to find it there!

  7. lifeinrecipes

    I gotta try these! I make a lemon cornmeal cookie with thyme that are in the same mode.

  8. PaniniKathy

    Rosemary is definitely one of the great “re-introductions” I’ve experienced in the past year – never would have thought to include it in desserts but it’s such a fantastic addition. I’d love to try these cookies, especially with those sugared edges :-)

  9. amy

    these look truly amazing – and i love the fact that you mix flavors in such a creative way!

  10. Elizabeth

    These sound so tasty. I am absolutely obsessed with rosemary this summer!

  11. Shannalee

    LifeinRecipes: Ooh, that sounds just like another cookie I just read about from a commenter. Sounds yummy!

    PaniniKathy: I know! It’s so surprising, but perfect! Enjoy!

    Amy: Thanks, Amy!

    Elizabeth: I’m near obsessed now, too. :)

  12. syhamel

    Thank you! It was real fun baking (and eating…) these on a rainy Saturday afternoon :)

  13. Shannalee

    Syhamel: I am so glad you liked them! And, btw, I love rainy Saturdays, too.

  14. Kelley

    With the exception of the pan that I burned … *blushing* … these were FABULOUS! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Shannalee

    Kelley: LOL, definitely something I would do. In fact, full disclosure, something I did do with the chocolate-chip cookies. Burned a whole six of them. Glad you liked these, though! I bet the fresh rosemary from your garden made them even better.

  16. Sarah

    Holy Cow! I made these the other night. Holy Cow! It is a keeper. They impressed many people. I think I ate half of them. I was calling them Rosemary Shortbread cookies.

  17. Shannalee

    Sarah: I’m so glad you liked them! (I totally ate at least half of mine, too.) :)

  18. Nealy

    So, I did make this for book club, and I was so proud of myself that they came out so well. And they were quite the hit—these and a quiche another girl made. What a yummy night!!

  19. Shannalee

    Yeah! There are few things I love more than a recipe that delivers. Glad you all enjoyed them (and I’d love to know what you’re all reading, and, of course, what kind of quiche it was).

  20. Pam

    I make those all the time from an old Martha magazine. Once people get a taste, I usually have to head back to the kitchen to make more. LOVE them!

  21. Shannalee

    Me too, Pam. Me too!

  22. Mikan

    (it occurred to me that you wouldn’t see my reply…)

    They really were amazing cookies! I’ve already been asked to make them as his Christmas gift. XD

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. :)

  23. Shannalee

    Mikan: It was bound to happen! Someone who already loves rosemary is destined for these!

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  26. kickpleat

    I have so much rosemary and am jonesing for cookies.

  27. Shannalee

    You will not regret making these – SO GOOD.

  28. Matt

    Great Recipe. Am I the only one who got burnt cookies? I took them out at 15 minutes and they were smoking an brown/black. My oven thermometer read 360….Well, at any rate, it works much better for me at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

  29. Shannalee

    I am sorry to hear that, Matt, but glad you figured out a temp/time that got your cookies baking right. This recipe is lightly adapted from Martha Stewart, so I can’t take much credit for the baking times suggested; however, I know from experience different ovens always are different. Happy holidays!

  30. Renee

    I have never baked before. When it says 3/4 cup and 1/2 cups of sugar and you can use granulated for both. Do you do both of the cups or just one?

    1. Renee

      nvm I did not read the whole thing : /

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